3 PR lessons learned from my summer job

I have been a hostess at the local Buffalo Wings and Rings for two years now.

I love the restaurant itself, don’t get me wrong, their Sweet Thai Chili sauce is out of this world. But working as a hostess for the rest of my life is not ideal. And although I usually start counting down the minutes until the end of my shift beginning from the very moment I clock in, I actually have learned quite a few valuable career lessons from my summer job.

1. Customer is key. I don’t care if you know – IF YOU ARE 100% POSITIVE – that the customer did not order an extra Blue Cheese on the side. If they said they did, they did. End of story. If you forgot to repeat the order back to the customer before you hung up the phone, that’s on you, and the restaurant will suffer because of the error.

Now, in my opinion, this lesson can be translated to a PR setting. If a client of a PR agency is not pleased with the agency’s work, that client has the right to make its argument known and appreciated. There will always be another wing joint to eat at, just like there will always be another PR agency to employ. If a lack of communication is the culprit, then the organization must cut its losses to please its customer.

2. Mistakes happen. Own up, apologize and move on. Just tonight I completely messed up an order. The restaurant was very loud – it was difficult to hear over the phone. Although the woman said her order would be under the name Spike, I heard Synthia. So, when Spike came to pick up her order, there were no wings waiting. I checked the system, then double-checked just to be sure. But no, Spike did not exist. So, I found my manager and the kitchen re-cooked her order. Luckily it was only $6.75. However, at the end of the night a mystery bag remained. Synthia, it read. 5 Teriyaki wings with a side of cheesy potato wedges. Spike’s order. Whoops!

So, instead of discretely hiding the proof of my faux pas, I went to my manager and revealed my mistake. And guess what?! He said, “No big deal, take the wings home to your little sister.”

Lesson learned? Always own up to your mistakes. Saying, “Hey, I screwed up here and I’m sorry,” sounds way cooler than, “Umm… I don’t know what happened… I think it was the computer’s fault.” The truth is always better than a slapdash lie, and in the end your boss, your coworkers and your clients will always thank you for it.

3. No matter how petty the task, do it with upmost integrity. Let me tell you something, there is nothing I hate more than cleaning toilets. Specifically, public toilets. I mean honestly, who likes that? However, as a hostess it’s my job to clean the ladies’ restroom at the end of the night, toilets and all.

Now, some people might simply spray the toilets down with disinfectant and call it a job well done, but I am meticulous. I clean those freakin’ toilets until they shine like porcelain shrines. And you know why? Because it’s my job. That’s what I’m getting paid to do. If I’m already in the bathroom armed with chemicals and paper towels, why not to the best job I can do? So I scrub, and it’s disgusting, but nobody can say a bathroom has ever been left dirty by Briagenn.

Again, this translates to PR quite well. Who cares if you’re not working with a super cool client? It’s not a big deal if your campaign plan isn’t as cutting edge or as exciting as you had hoped. Do your best, no matter how tedious the task. Do your best for your client, and do your best for yourself.

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